Six-Year-Old Handcuffed For Stealing Candy: Mother Files Lawsuit

Six-Year-Old Handcuffed For Stealing Candy: Mother Files Lawsuit

A mother has filed a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools after her six-year-old daughter was handcuffed for allegedly taking candy. 

In March of 2016 Six-year-old Fernwood Elementary school student Madisyn Moore was pulled out of class by a security guard employed by the school after she allegedly took candy off her teacher’s desk. The security guard identified as Divelle Yarbrough; handcuffed Madisyn-who has special needs-and left her under a stairwell near the boilers for over an hour.

Madiysn’s mother, Marlene Wordlow; was called about the incident and arrived about 50 minutes later to discover Madisyn in handcuffs. "He was pulling Madisyn from underneath the stairs with her hands behind her back", Wordlow told ABC Chicago.

In an interview with the Daily News Wordlow revealed that the candy was actually a part of Madisyn’s lunch. She was also surprised by the reaction of Yarbrough when she asked him about the incident. “He said, ‘I’m teaching her a [f–king] lesson. She took a piece of candy and I handcuffed her under the stairs,’” Wordlow told the Daily News.

Wordlow believes that CPS has failed to deliver any justice in the matter.  The principal offered an apology, fired the security guard and placed a “do not hire” note in his personnel file. However, Wordlow is not satisfied, there are still questions about why the security guard was allowed to handcuff Madisyn.

Since the incident, the school district and the police have not been helpful. The police did not bother to press charges against Yarbrough. Wordlow removed Madisyn from Fernwood elementary but the school district did not help her find a new school.

Wordlow’s lawyer, Jeffrey Granich has filed alleged excessive force, false imprisonment and emotional distress. “I would like to know why he hasn’t been prosecuted. This is battery. This is false imprisonment,” Granich told ABC News Chicago. “The Chicago Public School System has a responsibility to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

There is a “lesson” to be learned in this incident and it’s not what Yarbourgh believed he was acting under. Racial profiling is a learned behavior that starts with how children are treated in public spaces. Was Yarbourgh acting with racial bias? Or has the Chicago Public School district created an environment of bias based on the fluctuating systematic racial inequality that exists nationally?

Unfortunately for Madisyn the "public space" in her narrative is a school, which should be a safe place to educate students, teachers and faculty about equality. Hopefully the incident will not cause any further psychological damage to Madisyn moving forward. Self-esteem and self worth should be dynamics that are cultivated in a school setting, not disparaged. 

Ms. Wordlow has every right to be upset with the handling of the incident by the Chicago Public School district. She is a mother who witnessed the aftermath of her child experiencing a traumatic event. Although the lawsuit won’t change what happened to Madisyn, perhaps it prevents another child from being handcuffed. Stay tuned for more as this story develops. 

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